Walk with Jesus During Lent
Walk with Jesus During Lent
By Fr. Tony Thirumalareddy, Parochial Vicar
Lent is a time of repentance. It is a 40-day period of fasting and penitential preparation for Easter, which imitates Jesus Christ’s fast in the wilderness. The importance of the season of Lent in the Church is to observe and commemorate the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, our Savior and Redeemer. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, a day in which we go to Mass and receive ashes to signify “we are dust and to dust we return.” Especially during Lent, the Church teaches us to observe a period of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.
Fasting is often seen as changes to eating habits. Another way to look at fasting is curbing our bad habits. Seen this way, fasting is a way of examining our conscience, looking into one’s soul, and giving up what is not pleasing to God. The prophet Isaiah insisted that fasting without changing our behavior is not pleasing to God. Almsgiving is an act of justice that pleases the heart of God. Show an act of kindness to someone who is in need, live simply by choosing not to buy things you don’t need, and strive to be more generous and dependent on God who provides. Lastly, set aside quiet times for prayer when you can be alone with God. Attending Mass, praying the Stations of the Cross, praying the Rosary, reading the Bible, and meditating on Passion narratives are all ways that we can develop habits of prayer.
Around the world, Christians observe Lent in many of these same ways. Although, some traditions can look different in other countries. In India, many Catholics begin Lent by attending Mass, receiving ashes, and participating in Stations of the Cross that evening. They typically fast from food during the day and eat an evening meal. Often, they will fast from meat during the entire Lenten season but will have fish on Sundays. Others will only have one meal in the evening throughout Lent.
Catholics in India typically participate in the Stations of the Cross on every Wednesday and Friday. Some might pray the whole day, even sleeping in the church at night. During Holy Week, many will attend a Lenten retreat or go on a pilgrimage visiting 14 churches, using each stop as part of the Stations of the Cross. On Good Friday, the people will reenact the Stations of the Cross in the streets. On this day, not only Catholics, but people of all faiths, like to watch the Passion scenes. Easter celebrations begin with the Easter Vigil Mass on Saturday evening at Midnight and afterwards everyone partakes in festivities with food and drinks.
Whatever Lenten traditions you may have or may have done in the past, I encourage you to make Lent a fruitful season by practicing prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Whether it be attending daily Mass, staying away from mass media, receiving the sacrament of reconciliation more frequently, or any of the other practices mentioned, Lent allows us the time to walk with Jesus and observe how completely He loves us. Through the changes we make in our daily lives, we make room for Him.
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